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Davao City, Philippines

NTF orders tighter monitoring vs. Delta variant in GenSan

July 21, 2021 - Wednesday 2:07 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image DELTA ALERT. Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (center), the National Task Force against Covid-19 chief implementer, discusses the necessary interventions in line with the threats posed by the Delta variant of Covid-19 in a meeting with local government and regional officials of Soccsksargen in General Santos City on Tuesday (July 20, 2021). He advised local government units to further beef up their response measures against the more contagious variant. (Photo courtesy of the city government)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The national government has directed city officials and other stakeholders here to strengthen the area’s control measures, especially in the ports and sea borders, due to the threats posed by the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) Delta variant.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer, said during a consultation with local government and regional officials of Soccsksargen here on Tuesday that the city has “high vulnerability” in terms of its spread.

He said although the area has not yet detected any case of local transmission of the Delta variant, its proximity to Indonesia and open ports could later pose serious problems.

The official cited that the city is quite close to Manado in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, which is currently reeling from a surge in cases and deaths triggered by the more contagious variant.

It is also a part of the cross-border route with Indonesia that covers the eastern part of the city and the Davao area, Galvez said.

Citing the case of Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental, he said it became a high-risk area to the Delta variant and eventually recorded disease transmission.

“That’s also our consideration here in GenSan, we have a fish port and Indonesian and Malaysian fishermen can just criss-cross. It’s possible that the transmission will happen in the seas and they can bring it here,” he said in an audio recording of the “closed-door” meeting released to the media late Tuesday afternoon.

As an intervention, the NTF decided to prioritize workers at the city fish port complex, canneries, and other related industries in the Covid-19 vaccination.

Galvez said they approved the city government’s request for the delivery of some 10,000 doses to immediately start the inoculation activities.

The Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. here already released the guidelines for the vaccination of an initial 2,500 workers this week.

“We will cover GenSan first and it will have a separate allocation until we complete the vaccination at the fish port and canneries because these are the vulnerable areas,” he said.

In the meantime, Galvez advised local government units (LGUs) and concerned agencies to include the Delta variant threat in their response initiatives.

He said it has a high transmissibility rate of 1:8 when compared to the 1:2 to 1:3 with the original strain.

Galvez said LGUs should establish syndromic surveillance and border control clusters in their local task forces to facilitate a more focused response.

For the prevention measures, he said the enforcement of the prohibition on mass gatherings and other spreader events should be tightened and LGUs may tap military personnel to assist in these efforts.

They can be deployed to help enforce the area’s general community quarantine (GCQ) restrictions and other protocols, among them the face mask requirement in public convergence areas, he said.

“Our LGUs may recalibrate their GCQ restrictions a bit to address these concerns,” he said.

Galvez urged the local officials to continue increasing the capacity of the hospitals in their respective areas by converting more isolation rooms into intensive care units as well as expand the contact tracing and disease surveillance down to the barangay level. Richelyn Gubalani

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